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Poster: Fact_Checker Date: Jul 27, 2009 4:39am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Champagne for Caesar / is there a defect with its placement of copyright notice?

There's been no comment on this post since it went up, so I thought I would clarify what was meant by the remarks on the placement of the copyright notice.

On "Champagne for Caesar," the copyright notice appears on the end title. This is particularly unusual for a film of 1950, although such placement is the norm today. Pretty much every Hollywood big-studio movie of the last two decades has the copyright notice near the very end of the end credits. Current law makes copyright notices optional, and Copyright Office practices indicate that notices are to be recognized if they are in the first or last reel.

Getting back to the era ruled by the 1909 and 1947 Copyright Acts, there were statutes about notice placement, but they were silent insofar as movies are concerned.

Some court decisions on notice placement are summarized at:

http://chart.copyrightdata.com/c02F.html

Pay special attention here to a ruling concerning a movie, the case with Tom Dunnahoo (of Thunderbird Films) as defendant. He was found to have infringed for believing blank leader separating end credits from notice made a notice invalid:

http://chart.copyrightdata.com/c02F.html#s131

(This is direct link to passage on the same page linked above.)

Directly beneath this is a quotation from the Compendium of Copyright Office Practices, 1970 edition, which states unequivocally that the law does not specify where a copyright notice is to be on a movie.

Beneath this is a CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) quotation pertaining to notices on work from 1981 onward.

Lastly, here's the wording of the Copyright Act itself in operation in 1950, as it concerns notice placement:

"§ 20. SAME; PLACE OF APPLICATION OF; ONE NOTICE IN EACH VOLUME OR NUMBER OF NEWSPAPER OR PERIODICAL.—The notice of copyright shall be applied, in the case of a book or other printed publication, upon its title page or the page immediately following, or if a periodical either upon the title page or upon the first page of text of each separate number or under the title heading, or if a musical work either upon its title page or the first page of music. One notice of copyright in each volume or in each number of a newspaper or periodical published shall suffice."

As this is a historic version of the Copyright Act, this can be looked up at: http://law.copyrightdata.com/

See also http://law.copyrightdata.com/1947_1976_chart.php to follow the changes in wording over the years.

The CFR was not yet published in 1950, so far as I can determine. If it was, that would be the place to look for inner-governmental rules on specific policies merely hinted at in the statutes.

I don't know what prompted k-otic, the Internet Archive and/or Copyright Commons to decide that "Champagne for Caesar" is in the public domain, but it can't be because:

* there is no copyright notice (there is one -- on the end title of the movie)

* the copyright notice was placed at the end rather than the beginning of the movie (see the statute, as cited above)

* the copyright notice is deficient (the wording is normal)

* lack of renewal (see my previous message)

* timeliness of renewal (renewal occurred in the 28th calendar year, which any 1950 copyright is eligible for)

* ineligible party filing for renewal (from the information provided online, the renewal seems to have been filed by the owner).